An Old Oklahoma Guitar-Tribute to John Denver
Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. (John Denver)
An interesting story of an Air Force Military Brat who was given a guitar from his Grandma, in order to help him with his shyness, who went on to sing songs filled with the nature and imagery of the World around us. He sang his songs...to a World audience.
A singer/songwriter that was a true poet. He inspired many people to stop for a moment in their life and enjoy the scenery a little bit more. He did it through his own brand of songs.
I'm not going tell his tale, though it is a fascinating one. I highly recommend you look up his biography on the internet. Rather...I'm just going to write out a few words...in "manly" poetry fashion...and see where it takes me...as I have realized that his words live on...in his music.
This is a simple tribute.
As free as an Eagle...hovering the Blue Sky...
Way above the mountains...on a "Rocky Mountain High".
A guitar for the story teller who sings of flight...
And watches the shadows subtle changes in the forest Starlight.
"They say he was born...in his 27th year..."
"To a place he never knew"... but loved very dear.
At home in the Mountain Ranges...blanketed by trees...
Looking out across the valley...carried away on a breeze.
You dreamed of Wildlife...free to roam in peace in the wilderness...
With a guitar in hand...you played songs that described it best.
I have not been to the mountains...it has been so long...
But I travelled there today again...when I heard (again) your song.
"Life on the farm is kind of laid back"...
Especially in dream's from "Grandma's feather bed"...when you hit the sack.
But words that sound across the countryside...in a musical tune...
Are as at home out in the forest...as the wolf crying at the moon.
"Oh, Calypso...What places you've been to..."
"Fly Away"...above the mountains...as your heart yearns to do.
Know that you stood...with guitar in hand...and told scenic imagery...through song...
Though you flew down here on Earth...for your last...your songs still live on.
I guess I would like to thank you for songs which have a part of this natural world...written in...
I think I can still hear those tunes...Coming from far away mountains...carried on the wind !
" " Quotation marks are used for lines that I remember from John Denver's songs. They are quoted as I remember them...even lines I haven't heard in years. The best tribute to someone...I believe...most of the time (this being true)...is the things that we recall about them without much thought at all.
My thinking for this tribute...
When I was a kid, my family would gather around a recreational subdivison on Lake Livingston. This was early on...in fact the lake had just been made at that time. Back then, we spent a lot of weekends and holidays there. The place was covered in pine trees like all other parts of East Texas are. This subdivision had a huge pool next to a forest line of trees. We spent a lot of our time at that pool. It had picnic tables under a pavilion that was close to the pool. You could literally spend all day there. It also had a jukebox on that pavilion there. On that jukebox, back in that time, the popular country songs (this was East Texas!) that I remember were from Glen Campbell, Jerry Reed, Roger Miller, and a funny guy named Ray Stevens. There were probably more, but these are the ones that stick out. Female country singers on the jukebox that I recall were Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, and Vicki Lawrence with "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia". There was also this bowl-cut, long haired with round gold rim glasses guy singing "Rocky Mountain High" and "Country Roads". These were the great songs that I remember most...that came from that jukebox on the pool pavilion.
Sometimes...if the whole pool was quiet enough...you could hear the songs coming down from the pavilion (which was slightly above the huge pool, on a hill). One time...I was on an East Texas High...just swimming along the back part of the pool near the forest side of it...while listening to "Rocky Mountain High". I think that if I were to go back and stand by that pool again today, that song would still be there playing.
Today, after hearing the song "Rocky Mountain High", I learned how John Denver came to write the words to his most famous song. It really was interesting...after all these years. As someone who likes to write "manly" poetry that involves nature, I really enjoyed hearing the songwriter's hidden meanings behind lines that I most have sung 100 times or more at a camp bonfire. I'm quite sure the poetic part of my mind deciphered all the words to many a song by the Legend known as John Denver. I have no doubt that I am inspired to write with nature in mind, by the words he sang. I have no doubt about this. But, this was the first time I knew exactly what all the words meant.
To see the genius of his writing style perfectly illustrated in the song about the things that were important to him while on a campout with friends in the "Rockies". And, to display those words from the song so "spot-on" that they launched him to the top of his career (Not to mention the song was adopted by Colorado as their State song), is really an incredible thing...I have to say.
In an age where Country Music really took off and became so popular with everyone in the 1970's, how is that this amazing Country Folk-style singer and writer has escaped the historical musical impact that he had on the Country, and perhaps even the World?
I have read about what happened to him when Charlie Rich announced that he had won the Country Music Awards (he lit the envelope on fire-don't know how I missed that in the News-or why I wasn't watching that Award show-since I used to back then). I have read about his airplane accident. I have also been to Corn (Korn-old spelling), Oklahoma where his Grandmother was from (the one that gave him his guitar to help him overcome shyness). Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. (John Denver) was born in Roswell, New Mexico. I wonder if he had a chance to go into the Lincoln National Forest near there. I know that area is beautiful and inspires me to love being in the mountains. Perhaps that is why he felt so at home in the Colorado Rockies, even if he had never been there before, due to the close similarities. He does say that he lived in Tucson, Az. for awhile. Tucson is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery, for sure. it seems like everywhere he had been inpsired him though.
I remember a documentary video I saw of him rafting through the Grand Canyon with his family as an older man. I think it ended with him overlooking Monterey Bay, California (the place he would later crash into and die).
I think to myself, here is a guy that truly loved nature, and was able to express it well. He had a musical influence on my own appreciation of nature. So that's when I decided to write a "manly" poem tribute to him...if I can find the right words.
John Denver sure captured so much nature in his words...
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